Hamba kahle Bra Hugh Masekela

On Tuesday the world woke up to the news that the South African (SA) Jazz icon, Hugh Masekela was no more. The ‘horn of Africa’ went silent, one prominent South African journalist wrote.

Bra Hugh lost a protracted battle with prostate cancer, and passed away in Johannesburg aged 78. The world-renowned trumpeter has been been battling prostate cancer since 2008.

A great man who needs no introduction, Bra Hugh spent close to three decades in the United States of America and the United Kingdom spreading the word, mainly through his music, against Apartheid.

He also spent close to five years in Botswana during the 1980s. After SA gained independence, Bra Hugh never forgot Botswana, and was a constant visitor to this beautiful republic to serenade us with his music.

Not only was he a great musician, he was an author of note, having penned three books by the time he departed this world. A publicly declared recovering alcohol and drug addict, Bra Hugh walked the talk by starting a rehabilitation programme called Musicians and Artists’ Assistance Programme of South Africa.

This benevolent gesture shows that the legendary trumpeter cared about humanity. He wanted to share his experiences, both sweet and sad, with the world. We hope other musicians who found themselves living under the spell of drug and alcohol will draw a lesson from the Bra Hugh’s experience. Bra Hugh loved life. He loved music.

He loved to entertain his fans. At his advanced age, he could still

mesmerise the crowd with his dance moves. He was a marvel to watch on stage. A majority of people at his age are economically inactive but not Bra Hugh. 

He was still a passionate musician on stage despite living with cancer for a decade. Many could have given up the battle, but Masekela knew that he had throngs of fans to entertain with his music.

His music was addictive, hence people took to the dance floor during his shows. This is the man who was gifted in his dance and song. Even under pressure of fast moving music, Bra Hugh refused to go bubble gum and remained true to the art, producing classic music.

The world without Br Hugh is not a complete world. He will be forever missed but his music lives on. Robala ka kagiso Bra Hugh. Tiro ya gago oe weditse fatsheng leno.

Today’s thought

“The nation mourns one of its most recognisable signature talents ... It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten. We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and peers in the arts and culture fraternity at large. May his soul rest in peace.”

 – Jacob Zuma




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